It’s been a while since I’ve thought about kindergarten curriculum. But now I have an eager child wanting to learn everything, and she’s not old enough for K (traditionally speaking). So I told her we’re doing K4 this year.
I recently pulled some things off the walls–things my sons used for kindergarten and higher but that I won’t use for her. When she saw me take off the medieval themed alphabet, she protested.
But I am choosing not to reuse that for a reason–it doesn’t hold meaning. She kept asking “What does a G look like?” (While I’m cooking dinner) and when I told her to look for the gauntlet on the ABC chart, that didn’t help her because she doesn’t know those medieval terms like the back of her hand, as her knight-loving brothers did!
But I got nostalgic as I took it down. The end of an era. I made that 6 years ago.
My oldest child, my first little knight, on first day of school ever.
But I should say, I’ve gotten more excited about teaching my daughter preschool stuff more than about the boys’ subjects this year. Not sure why. It just seems so fun, so relaxed, so cute.
But back to the alphabet: she protested, so to curb the complaints/tears, I explained that we could make a new alphabet out of things she likes. She got all excited, talking about making ballerina and fairy letters. That is one of the purposes behind this designing: make it something the child is interested in.
The second reason I made my sons a themed image alphabet is purely academic–and about brain development. When a child is the typical age for kindergarten, the child’s brain sees letters and groups of letters that make word as IMAGES. They don’t see lines and circles forming individual letters. They don’t see words being formed by individual letters. Instead, they see an over-all shape defined mostly by the contours, the outer edges. Cat is not c plus a plus t. It’s more like a shape that is curved at one end and straight with a bar sticking out at the end, and something in the middle. For letters, it is the same–the first processing isn’t about how to construct the letter, but rather recognizing the shape its contours cut against the white background.
One suggestion I’d read more than once about assigning pictures/objects to a letter for its sound: it’s much more effective to have that object form the letter shape. Arrows make A, a dragon makes the D shape, etc. The image making the shape reinforces the their acquisition of the alphabet and phonics in the way kids’ brains naturally process information.
So for my knight-loving firstborn, we approach our letters this way. For each he learned, we made a card. I drew the letter on a little card, incorporating an image that starts with that letter’s sound, to help make an association between the shape and the sound. (When we were all done, I made little posters by photocopying them on three pages and hung them on the wall. I kept the originals separate and used them as flash cards.)
He got to color most of them and loved building onto this through the weeks.
Some were obviously more challenging than others. B was challenging just to try to make a breastplate assume a B shape. U, X, Y, and Z were challenging just to figure out what ot draw for that sound.
If I had it to do over, I’d change O because as it is, the sound is not either the long or short o–it’s oo as in shoe. (Not a good teaching tool.) Same with X. This is a common problem. Xylophone, the gold standard in my day for this phoneme, is incorrect because the x in that word also doesn’t make the x sound–it makes the z sound.
While the theme was medieval-era things, I had to branch out to medieval-inspired fantasy of Lord of the Rings.
Who knows what my daughter and I will make for our new themed alphabet.
In high school art class, my husband and I both had the assignment to design an alphabet themed on a particular subject. I made my alphabet out of clown acrobats; he made his of race car parts. I think we were freshmen in high school? I remember loving the challenge of tying to make human bodies form each shape. I will be doing it again, I guess, with dancers and faeries. Oh boy–I’d better get thinking now what could be done for each sound…. Without delay!
My daughter is impatient for more formal learning. She’s been carrying her notebook around for a month of summer, copying her letters from a fridge chart, asking to be taught things. When I took the medieval alphabet down, it spurred more curiosity. She asked me something about the days of the week. As I was making dinner, I took 5 minutes and recreated a chart I once made for my boys (long gone) about the days of the week, and sang her the song I made up for them.
(To the tune of Mary Had a Mary Had a Little Lamb)
Sunday, I had an ice cream Sundae,
Monday, I lost all my money
Tuesday, I learned to count to two
and Wednesday, I went to a wedding.
Thursday I was thirsty all day
Friday, I ate French fries
Saturday I saw all day,
and then we start over with Sunday.
As studious as could be, she sat down and copied my little chart (after drawing an ice cream cone on top of mine), and sang the song over and over, smiling in bliss.
It’s hard NOT to get excited about going back to preschool stuff with this child 🙂
To any homeschoolers and teachers out there, have a great year!
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